Recreational specialization: A critical look at the construct Academic Article uri icon


  • Recreational specialization has generally been treated by leisure researchers as a measure of intensity of involvement and has been used to explore variation among activity participants in terms of their preferences, motivations, attitudes, and the like. A close look at Bryan's (1977, 1979) original writings, however, reveals that he regarded specialization foremost as a developmental process that entails a progression in behavior, attitudes, and preferences. In this paper, we examine how researchers might go about examining recreational specialization as a developmental process. We envisage specialization as a progression in behaviors, skills, and commitment. We also describe progression in terms of stages of involvement, career changes, and turning points. Findings from various studies, however, suggest that progression is not a typical career path pursued by recreation participants. Indeed, progression may well be the least common trajectory among recreation participants. To better understand the dynamics of progression, we examine a variety of individual and socio-cultural factors and events that are likely to facilitate or impede people's movement along the specialization continuum over time. We conclude the paper with suggestions for future research. Copyright 2001 National Recreation and Park Association.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Scott, D., & Shafer, C. S.

citation count

  • 280

complete list of authors

  • Scott, D||Shafer, CS

publication date

  • January 2001